Mike was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma of the ischium in 2016. He had lower back pain whenever he sat down for long periods of time. He initially thought he had sciatica, but after going to the doctor, he was diagnosed with cancer. Mike was shocked. “How was I going to tell my family? How are they going to take it?” He immediately called his wife and told their adult children later. He felt secure afterwards because he left the doctor’s office with a “game plan” on how to attack this tumor in his pelvic bone.
Mike underwent a major operation, where half of his pelvis was removed along with the tumor. He did well after the surgery, although it took months to recover. He knew he would be physically weaker postoperatively, at least for a while, so he built a shed with his son before his surgery. He went back to work, found a new normal, until the the tumor recurred a year later. He underwent another surgery. Once again, Mike recovered and resumed his life, when the tumor returned in January 2019 for the third time, he underwent another operation. This time, unfortunately, he developed a foot drop in his left leg due to some nerve damage. He wears a brace on his leg and occasionally uses a cane to help with walking.
Living with the unknown of whether or not the cancer will recur is a major stressor in Mike’s life. He gets scans twice a year to make sure the cancer has not spread anywhere else in his body. Although not at the forefront of his mind anymore, he worries about losing the ability to spend time outdoors, especially ice-fishing. Mike says, “Everything is a lot slower, physically. Everyone wants to help me, but I want to do everything on my own.” He continues to challenge himself as he makes new goals for himself to improve his skills in ice-fishing and other hobbies. Mike advises other patients to “Take one day at a time. There will be changes, you will adapt, that’s for sure. Everyday is going to be different. You will find a way to find a new normal.”
Please join us at this year’s annual Sarcoma Strong 5k on August 17th, 2019 held in Albany, NY to help support sarcoma research to learn more about the disease and finally find a cure.
Interview by Zohal Ghulam-Jelani